New operations came to effect to get Schengen visas in Azerbaijan

Common Visa Information System (VIS) to be launched from June 23

Baku. 23 June. REPORT.AZ/ From June 23, new operations start for obtaining Schengen visas in Azerbaijan. Report informs, the changes in the design of Schengen visas will affect the six countries of the Eastern Partnership, which includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine.

The VIS is a central database which supports the exchange of data on short-stay visas among Schengen states' authorities, and in particular between consulates, central visa authorities and border guards. It benefits applicants by streamlining Schengen visa application procedures and will include the use of biometrics (fingerprints and a digital facial image) in the application process in order to facilitate the identification of visa holders and to avoid identity theft.

The head of EU delegation to Azerbaijan, Malena Mard, stated: "This new biometric technology will benefit the permanently growing number of Azerbaijani citizens who are frequently travelling, enable them to prove more easily the lawful use of previous visas, for instance when applying for a multiple entry visa. The procedures for issuing short-stay visas to the Schengen area will become clearer, more precise, transparent and fairer. This will contribute to facilitating people to people contacts between Azerbaijan and the countries of the Schengen area".

The EU Ambassador stressed that "the collection of biometric identifiers for visa applicants concerns not only the Azerbaijanis, but citizens of all countries outside the Schengen area once the roll-out of the system is completed in late 2015. Additionally, this procedure is not completely unknown, both EU citizens and Azerbaijani citizens already provide their biometrical data to make the national travel documents (passports) more secure".

The VIS comprises a central database supporting the exchange of data on short-stay Schengen visas. The VIS is being progressively rolled out in the different regions of the world since 2011. All Schengen states' consular posts worldwide will be connected to the VIS by the end of November 2015 and will collect fingerprints and digital photos for visa applications for stays of up to 90 days in any 180 days.

Visa authorities in all Schengen states will be able to consult the data registered in the VIS, for instance when the same applicant applies for a new visa. The VIS will contain all the applications lodged by a person and subsequent decisions taken by the visa authorities.

The procedure for the collection of fingerprints is simple, rapid and discreet. The applicant will only have to place his/her fingers on the surface of a digital scanner. When lodging subsequent applications within five years the fingerprints will not be taken again but copied from the previous application file in the VIS. After five years, data will be erased.

When the visa holder arrives at the external border, the Schengen states' border control authorities will verify his/her identity and the authenticity of the visa against the VIS. The visa holder may be required to provide his/her fingerprints for comparison with those registered in the VIS at the time of application. A negative result of the comparison does not in itself mean that entry will be refused, but leads to further additional checks on the traveller's identity.

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